Former Bangladesh president Abdur Rahman Biswas dies at 91

Abdur Rahman Biswas, who served as Bangladesh's president during the BNP's tenure in the 90s, has died.

Published : 3 Nov 2017, 03:13 PM
Updated : 3 Nov 2017, 07:49 PM

Son Mizanur Rahman A Hasan Monu Biswas told his father passed away in Dhaka on Friday evening after suffering from old-age complications. Abdur Rahman was 91.

He said they took the former president to the United Hospital when he fell ill in the evening. "But the doctors pronounced him brought dead," he added.

The duty manager at the hospital told that the former president was brought there around 8:30pm. "He died before he was brought here."

After forming government in 1991, then prime minister Khaleda Zia made Abdur Rahman, a member of Ziaur Rahman's Cabinet, speaker of parliament.

He became Bangladesh's 16th president on Sept 10 the same year, according to the Bangabhaban website.

His term as president ended months after the Awami League came to power in 1996. Abdur Rahman has been out of the spotlight since then.

During the 1971 Liberation War, he pledged allegiance to Pakistan government, according to the Banglapedia.

Local freedom fighters say Abdur Rahman was chairman of Peace Committee, a platform formed by the Pakistan government during the War, in Barisal.

President Md Abdul Hamid has condoled the passing of the former president.

Khaleda and BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir have also expressed sorrow over the death.

Mirza Fakhrul and many other BNP leaders rushed to the hospital after hearing the news of his death.

Monu Biswas told at the hospital that his brother Ehsanul Kabir Jamal Biswas was in the United States now and their father would be buried after his return on Saturday.

The body would be taken to his birthplace Barisal from the hospital's mortuary in the morning on that day.

After a Namaz-e-Janaza at Barisal Zila School ground, it would be taken to Dhaka for funeral prayers in front of the BNP's headquarters at Naya Paltan, Supreme Court premises and Gulshan's Azad Mosque before the burial at Banani Graveyard.

Born on Sept 1, 1926, Abdur Rahman Biswas graduated from the Dhaka University's history department. He also received a postgraduate degree and completed LLB from the university.

Beginning his career as chairman of a local cooperative bank, he joined the legal profession in the 50s.

He was elected president of the Barisal Bar Association twice in the 70s. He also worked as a Supreme Court lawyer.

His political career began when he joined the Muslim League during Ayub Khan's regime.

He was elected member of the East Pakistan Legislative Assembly in 1962 and again in 1965.

After Bangladesh's independence, he became chairman of Barisal Municipality in 1977 during Zia's tenure.

He was elected MP in the 1979 general election and served as jute minister under Zia, and as health minister when Abdus Sattar became president after Zia's assassination.

Abdur Rahman was a vice-chairman of the BNP at the time.

He was elected MP again in February 1991 when the BNP formed government after hte ouster of HM Ershad. He was elected speaker of parliament in April the same year and eventually president.

By the end of his term as president, in May 1996, the punishment of the then army chief Lieutenant General Abu Saleh Mohammad Nasim and 15 officers loyal to him was one of most talked-about incidents of the time.

General Nasim called soldiers from cantonments outside Dhaka to the capital to stage a coup, according to charges brought against him. Seven of the officers loyal to Nasim were sacked and eight were sent to forced retirement that year.

Before Abdur Rahman retired from politics, his son Ehteshamul Haque Nasim was elected MP in the 1996 elections. Nasim died from 'poisoning' after taking meals at a wedding party on Mar 12, 1998.

Abdur Rahman's three other sons are Shamsuddoza Kalam Biswas, Jamirul Rahman Shibli Biswas, and Romen Biswas Rubel. His two daughters are Ankhi Biswas and Rakhi Biswas.

Abdur Rahman's wife Hosne Ara Rahman, a cousin of Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon, died on June 23 this year.